How To Shade a Tattoo

Shading tattoo

Originating over 5,000 years ago, the tattoo art was first seen on ancient tribes and cultures as a mark of individuality. Although it has been negatively associated with its patrons (such as with criminals and the Yakuza gang members), tattooing has increasingly become more socially accepted especially by the younger generation, as their way to express emotions, personal style and beauty. And despite the possibility of facing discrimination from some private institutions and gyms, a good number of people decide to permanently put this artwork on their bodies.

There is a wide variety of tattoo designs to choose from. This may include flowers, animals, hearts, and even personalized designs of your choice. Tattoo designing is relatively easy but the hard part would be technique used for shading. It requires great care and complete concentration to achieve best results and keep your customers satisfied. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you know if you’re on the right track in shading a tattoo.

  1. You need to have a tattoo machine, tattoo inks, and water.
  2. When you are having difficulty on the availability of the colors, you can blend ready-made inks to create new ones. You will gradually come to master creating new shades with constant practice by blending the different colors. You will also learn how the dilution of inks can help get darker and lighter shades.
  3. Also note that some designs are not suitable for shading. Designs that have larger, rounded elements and can be filled in with graduated color. This creates the illusion of shadows, preferably in images of skulls, animals and flowers.

Once you’ve prepared your preferred colors, dilute the ink into the tattoo machine.

  1. To create a darker shade, add a small amount of blank ink. Do this one step at a time so you still have the chance to easily adjust the shading. When you add too much ink at once, you will damage the whole design, making it almost impossible for you to fix it.
  2. To make lighter shades, mix ink with distilled water. The more you add water, the lighter the shade. This can also be done by gradually incorporating a small amount of white ink until you’ve reached the desired lightness.

A tattoo machine contains a group of needles that is called shaders. Shaders vary on shapes and groupings and each has different uses. It is best to get to know your shaders first.

  1. Apply a thin layer of lubricant onto the skin to make needles run smoothly.
  2. When shading, tilt the needle a bit on the skin. And to make shading more appealing, use the tattoo gun like a paintbrush.
  3. To make darker shades, move the tattoo gun slowly across the skin.
  4. For lighter shading, injection of the ink should be a bit more subtle by moving the tattoo gun quickly.
  5. Keep a clean cloth handy and wipe excess ink as soon as the ink has been injected, to avoid drying up and smearing your design.

Shading a tattoo requires great skill in art and a lot of patience. Properly shade a tattoo and you’re considered a true artist.


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